Space Science Reviews

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 483–510 | Cite as

Ureilites

  • G. P. Vdovykin
Article

Abstract

Ureilites are a rare group of five stony meteorites — feldsparless achondrites containing diamonds of preterrestrial origin the total weight of them being 315 carats. The whole carbon content in ureilites makes up 1.5–4.1%. Ureilites substantially differ from the other stony meteorites. In comparison with chondrites they are enriched in Mg but depleted in metal, troilite, alkaline elements. All ureilites are very similar by their structure. They contain elongated cavities generally stretched in the same direction. The structure of ureilites is an achondritic ‘porphyric’ one. These meteorites consist of large olivine grains, there is less clinopyroxene (pigeonite). They contain kamacite (Ni content being 1.5–4%), troilite FeS, chromite. Carbon material is represented by diamond, graphite and organic material being present in a disequilibrium state. Two ureilites (North Haig and Dingo Pup Donga) were considerably oxidized during terrestrial weathering and contain secondary iron oxides.

Diamonds are present in ureilites in thin intergrowths with graphite being disposed between silicate grains more or less evenly in the meteorite. The sizes of such black diamond-graphite aggregates are 0.3–0.9 mm. The sizes of the micromonocrystals of diamond and graphite are less than 1μ. The diamond-graphite aggregates contain dispersed particles of kamacite, troilite, chromite, ‘nickelchrome’, being present in very thin intergrowths with one another. Besides the usual diamond there is an admixture of lonsdaleite in the aggregates representing a hexagonal diamond with a würtzite-like structure. Lonsdaleite has been identified in the ureilites Novo Urei, Goalpara, North Haig. The diamonds of ureilites are characterized by inhomogeneities in the crystalline structure which are at least partly caused by the presence of donor nitrogen. According to the isotopic carbon composition the diamond in the meteorite Novo Urei has the value δC13 = -5.7‰.

The structure peculiarities of ureilites bear witness of the fact that these meteorites had been subject to the action of dynamic pressure about 300–600 kbar. The impact had taken place in cosmic space. All ureilites subdivide into two types: the first type are Novo Urei, Dyalpur, Dingo Pup Donga, the second type are Goalpara, North Haig according to the following signs: (1) olivine grains are finer in ureilites of the second type; (2) twinning is more typical of clinopyroxenes of ureilites belonging to the first type; (3) in ureilites of the first type a net-like iron distribution is observed, in ureilites of the second type kamacite plates are chiefly present between silicate grains; (4) the size of diamondgraphite intergrowths in ureilites of the first type does not exceed 0.3 mm, in ureilites of the second type it reaches 0.9 mm. Ureilites of the first type have undergone a less intensive impact than ureilites of the second type. Certain similarity of the material composition of ureilites and of the material composition of carbonaceous chondrites, the distinction of these two groups of meteorites from all other meteorites bear witness of the fact that ureilites have formed from carbonaceous chondrites during a collision of asteroid bodies in cosmic space, diamonds having been formed from the carbon material of carbonaceous chondrites.

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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. P. Vdovykin
    • 1
  1. 1.V. I. Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical ChemistryU.S.S.R. Academy of SciencesMoscowU.S.S.R.

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